About Brian Kavanagh

Chair, Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development

Democrat Democrat

District 27

Senate Capitol

About New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh

Para leer la biografía en español, mire debajo de la versión en inglés.

State Senator Brian Kavanagh is the chair of the Senate Housing Committee. He represents more than 330,000 residents in New York’s 27th State Senate District, which covers lower Manhattan from the Battery to 14th Street, including Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East Side, SoHo, NoHo, Greenwich Village and the East Village. (Click here for a map).

Brian was first elected to the Senate in December 2017 after representing the 74th District on Manhattan’s East Side in the State Assembly, where he was elected to six terms, beginning in 2006. His work has focused on affordable housing, gun violence prevention, environmental sustainability, democracy and open government, and economic and social justice.


As Chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, Brian has built on his decades of advocating for access to high quality, safe, affordable housing for all New Yorkers. 

He has worked to secure huge public investments in housing and related services, including billions in funding to renovate and maintain existing affordable housing, create new homes for homeless, low-income, and middle class New Yorkers, and provide financial assistance for renters and homeowners.

In 2024, New York State adopted Good Cause Eviction legislation, which Brian had pushed for since 2019. The legislation provides protections for New Yorkers who live in unregulated housing and is based on the premise that it is not okay to remove people from their homes and upend their lives without good cause. The bill will help stabilize our communities and prevent homelessness.

In 2022, Brian passed a law to facilitate conversion of under-used hotels to permanent affordable housing, and advanced his proposal in both the Senate and the Assembly for a new large-scale Housing Access Voucher Program, modeled on the federal Section 8 program, to provide rental assistance for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness or facing eviction.

From the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian advocated to stop evictions and foreclosures and to provide funding to keep renters and homeowners from losing their homes. He authored the statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium, extending it three times, for a total of 22 months. He also succeeded in enacting New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program and Homeowner Assistance Fund, and allocating $3.5 billion for these programs to date, including the largest investment of state funds for this purpose in the country. Brian continues to advocate for additional federal and state funds to fully cover the need.

In 2019, Brian led the Senate effort to enact the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act, which gave New York the most comprehensive tenant protections in the nation. The HSTPA dramatically strengthened the rent regulation laws, made them permanent, enabled any locality with a very low vacancy rate to adopt rent regulation, created new protections for residents of mobile and manufactured home parks, and instituted other substantial new rights for all renters statewide. In 2022, Brian co-chaired a public hearing on legislation he cosponsors that would expand tenant protections to New Yorkers who don’t have rent stabilization by requiring landlords show they have good cause in eviction cases.

Under Brian’s leadership, the Housing Committee held hearings on enforcement of housing, building, and fire codes, and advanced broad packages of legislation that passed the Senate in 2020 and 2022. In October of 2022, the Housing Committee also held a hearing to receive testimony regarding the practice of deed theft and its enforcement across the state. This hearing has resulted in multiple pieces of legislation to protect New Yorkers from losing their homes. Throughout his tenure, Brian has fought for major improvements in the management, maintenance, and security of public housing. While there have been some successes, including state capital funds allocated in recent years, he continues to advocate for a better response from city, state, and federal government.

In response to thorough reporting by Newsday on racial and ethnic discrimination by real estate brokers on Long Island, Brian joined colleagues to hold hearings, subpoena witnesses, investigate the allegations, and produce a report identifying ways to protect all New Yorkers’ right to fair access to housing. The resulting legislative package was enacted in 2021. Brian also successfully advocated in 2019, 2020, and 2021 to restore funding for foreclosure prevention counseling and legal services, which had been cut from the Executive budget. In 2022, he led the successful push to substantially increase this funding to meet the greater need resulting from the financial hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also authored and co-sponsored several new laws to protect the rights of homeowners in the foreclosure process.

Locally, Brian has championed the Neighborhood Preservation Program to ensure that community organizations have the resources they need to provide front-line housing services in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. He enacted legislation in 2022 to protect housing stability for residents of Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists, a special type of housing that permits residential use of commercial and manufacturing loft spaces in SoHo and NoHo. He passed legislation through the Senate and the Assembly to expand programs that freeze the rents of lower-income seniors and those with disabilities to include residents of former Mitchell-Lama buildings like Independence Plaza North in Manhattan. He also passed legislation to extend these programs to residents of Battery Park City, to help promote the long-term stability of the community by extending the master lease between the BPC Authority and the City by 50 years, and to require a majority of the Authority’s board to be primary residents of Battery Park City.


In his more than a decade and a half in the legislature, Brian has repeatedly taken on the gun industry lobby and won, helping to reduce gun violence in New York and across the country. He is the founder and chair of American State Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention and New York Legislators for Gun Violence Prevention. In 2022, he led the Senate debate to enact legislation to respond to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a key part of New York’s gun permitting law. The new law created stringent training and background check requirements for permits to carry a gun, banned guns from sensitive areas even with a permit, and enhanced safe storage requirements. Also in 2022, Brian successfully enacted his legislation to establish the State Police as the “point of contact” to conduct background checks on all gun and ammunition sales, ensuring a more thorough review than the federal system alone. In the same year, Brian enacted new rules for gun dealers to ensure guns aren’t lost or stolen from their inventory and to prevent gun and ammunition sales to those who are prohibited from purchasing them. He also enacted the nation's first statewide ban on the sale of body armor, which has been used in mass shootings, with exceptions for law enforcement, security jobs, or other positions that require it.

Brian drafted and passed New York’s “red flag” law, enacted in 2019, which empowers families, law enforcement, and schools to obtain Extreme Risk Protection Orders to keep guns away from individuals when evidence shows they are likely to harm themselves or others. In 2013, he helped craft the NY SAFE Act, which requires background checks on all gun sales, and bans certain military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. He has also advocated successfully for laws requiring a permit and a minimum age of 21 for purchasing a semi-automatic rifle, safe storage of guns when not in their owner’s possession, more support for community-based gun violence intervention, and gun violence prevention research funding. Brian’s work earned him the Detective McDonald Law Enforcement Award from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence in 2019.


Brian has also been a leader in promoting environmental sustainability. He introduced the All-Electric Building Act, which would ban construction of new buildings that require fossil fuels — after 2026 for buildings seven stories or shorter and in 2029 for all other buildings — with limited exceptions for certain functions where all-electric systems are not feasible. 

Brian was a proud co-sponsor of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, enacted in 2019, which mandated huge cuts in climate pollution, investment in clean, renewable energy sources, and creation of green jobs to promote environmental justice — the most comprehensive and ambitious climate change law in the United States. He was an early champion of the successful campaign to ban high-volume fracking for fossil fuels, and has sponsored legislation to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals and to make producers responsible for recycling or disposing of products at the end of their useful life. In 2022, he authored legislation that passed both houses of the legislature to establish extended producer responsibility for old carpeting rather than sending it to landfills. He has also introduced extended producer responsibility legislation for rechargeable batteries, mercury containing lamps, mattresses, major household appliances & refrigerants, textiles, and authored framework legislation that would permit the Department of Environmental Conservation to designate products for which producers would be responsible for collection and reuse, recycling, or disposal.

Brian has served on the Environmental Committee during each of his years in the legislature and is on the Board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. His work has earned him the League of Conservation Voters Eco-Star Award, and top ratings each year from LCV and Environmental Advocates of New York.

Local initiatives on resiliency, open space, and green infrastructure have complemented Brian’s work on statewide issues. He helped lead relief efforts after Superstorm Sandy and has advocated for ongoing neighborhood resiliency initiatives. In 2019, he passed legislation to increase Battery Park City’s ability to raise capital for resiliency measures. As an Assemblymember, he passed legislation and negotiated a deal between the City and the State to create new parkland and a mile-long esplanade that closed the gap in the East River Greenway from East 60th to East 38th Street in Manhattan. The project was completed in 2023. He also commissioned, with then-Borough President Scott Stringer, the East River Blueway Plan, a comprehensive proposal to improve resiliency and public access to Manhattan’s waterfront.


Promoting cleaner, fairer elections by modernizing voting and establishing effective campaign finance laws has been a central part of Brian’s work. He chaired the Assembly Subcommittee on Election Operations, and authored and passed many bills in that house that the Senate blocked for years, including early voting, voter registration improvements, and campaign finance reforms. With the change in Senate leadership in 2019, he joined colleagues in enacting comprehensive election reform as the first act of the new legislative session. His bill closed the notorious “LLC Loophole,” one of the most egregious failings of New York’s laws, which allowed virtually unlimited contributions to political candidates, often with contributors’ true identity hidden. The national organization Fair Vote has presented Brian with its Champion of Democracy Award.

Brian has also been an advocate for transparency in the ways the legislature does the people’s work. He co-chaired the Assembly Workgroup on Legislative Process, Operations, and Public Participation, which reformed significant aspects of the Assembly’s rules and practices.


Before he was elected to the legislature, Brian served on the staff of City Council Member Gale Brewer, in the administrations of Mayors Ed Koch and David Dinkins, as an attorney at the New York City law firms of Kaye Scholer and Schulte Roth & Zabel, and as a researcher and voting rights advocate at Dēmos.

One of six children of an Irish-immigrant police officer and a community leader who had a distinguished career at a local newspaper, Brian is part of a large, close-knit extended family. He is a lifelong New Yorker and has been a resident of Manhattan for more than three decades. He grew up on Staten Island, attended Regis High School and Princeton University on scholarship, and earned his law degree from New York University, where he was a Dean’s Scholar. He has American and Irish passports and serves as President of the American-Irish Legislators Society. When not working, Brian loves to play chess, read, run or bike through the neighborhoods he proudly represents, and go hiking or backpacking in the Adirondacks, where he hopes to climb all 46 of the high peaks.